Guest : Dougie Oakes
The long short history of post-apartheid South African rugby
The compromises and conciliations of South African rugby mirror the unfinished
transition from apartheid racism in the broader society.
It is now history that all the warnings issued by the South African Council on Sport
(SACOS), which dominated anti-apartheid sports protests inside South Africa, were
ignored by the incoming ANC government after 1994. In every part of the country we
are paying a heavy price for the ANC government’s mistaken belief that leaving
apartheid sports structures relatively intact would earn them both brownie points and
votes from the white electorate. In May 1990, the National Sports Congress (NSC) was
launched as the sports wing of the ANC and soon the SACOS mantra: “No normal sport
in an abnormal society” was turned on its head.
About a year or two ago, I delivered a paper at a sports conference at Stellenbosch
University. I called it “Mande|a’s Sports Legacy Revisited.” I spoke about a fallacy that
had taken root just before and after the 1995 Rugby World Cup tournament.
It was a fallacy, I said, that ceded control of a game, in which only white players could
aspire to play for their country, to the very people who devised the segregation and the
rigid apartheid rules that governed who could play where. This has led to the betrayal
of thousands of black rugby players who had fought so hard for non-racialism, and
against a regime that was prepared to torture and kill its opponents.
I described South Africa’s sports policy as having been built on something that wasn’t
real—the “Rainbow Nation”—and on mumbo-jumbo, called “Madiba Magic.” Nelson
Mandela did many good things for South Africa, his attempts to guide South Africans
towards reconciliation being an example. But he also made some terrible errors of
judgement. In this respect, one of his worst decisions was to agree, with his inner circle
of advisors, to pick up the tab for South Africa’s apartheid debt.
Another mistake was to give white South Africans a free pass into international sport
without asking them to make a single sacrifice. Black South Africans are still paying the
price for this largesse today.
Let’s be quite clear about this: apartheid, and its predecessor, segregation, were
wonderful policies for white people. They were even better for those who played a
sport, such as rugby. Both formed part of the ultimate quota system—at different times.
Playing under the emblem of the Springbok, life could not have been better for white
South African sportsmen and women, and spectators.
Mandela erred badly by supporting appeals by white administrators to allow the
Springbok emblem to be retained, and by allowing the white South African Rugby Board
to maintain control of the game in South Africa. These are key reasons why
transformation has not taken place in South Africa. A small number of black players
being pushed through a narrow pipeline of so-called “traditional” rugby schools can
never be described as transformation. It is assimilation.
Today, black players, whether they like it or not, are part of a national body that
glorifies a history of the Springbok that is tied to apartheid, to players who supported
apartheid, and to officials who for a long time arrogantly told their counterparts in
other countries who could and who could not be chosen in their touring sides to South
To be part of this structure is to be at one with people who even today admire the 1960s
Springbok Centre, Mannetjies Roux, for kicking an anti-apartheid protester during a
pitch invasion of a match in the Springbok tour of the UK. It is to be at one with the
fawning comments of Supersport commentators relating to the wonderful rivalry
between white Springboks and the All Blacks over many decades. I feel sick when these
same commentators say things such as “since our return to international sport.”
Have the sports media in this country even mentioned in passing the 50th anniversary
of the founding of the Halt All Racist Tours (HART) that fought so hard to get New
Zealand authorities to cut ties with the “Springbok”?
Has Peter Hain’s fight against apartheid sport ever been mentioned?
Has white sports’ despicable history ever been highlighted? The truth is that even the
conservative old farts who ran the game in countries such as England, Ireland, Wales,
Scotland, France, Australia and New Zealand, who supported the Springboks through
thick and thin, were eventually forced to join the rest of the world in isolating South
The ANC’s record in fighting apartheid sport has been laughable.
Soon after then-President FW de Klerk unbanned the ANC, the PAC and the South
African Communist Party, on February 2, 1990, the ANC began lifting the sports ban on
various codes, provided they participated in matches that were “non-racial.” This,
rightly, infuriated members of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement, and those who
supported them. A Labour Party MP, Bob Hughes, told Aziz Pahad, then-ANC’s deputy
secretary of international affairs that “ambiguities and inconsistencies over the sports
boycott had helped to confuse the public.” He begged the ANC to be patient. If any
problems arose later, it would be very difficult to revert to the situation as it stood.
But the ANC wouldn’t listen.
Pahad denied the public was being confused. Instead, he asked the British Anti-
Apartheid Movement to consider lifting the boycott as far as it affected “non-racial”
bodies. An angry Hughes wrote back to him, caustically stating it was a pity the ANC had
not consulted the anti-apartheid movement about its change in policy.
But the writing had long been on the wall. In 1990, Oliver Tambo, then-ANC President,
returned to South Africa after three decades in exile, to attend an ANC consultative
conference, and called on the organization to re-evaluate its sanctions policies.
It was a signal to open the gates. The rush into international sport quickly became a
tidal wave. South Africa sent a team to the Barcelona Olympics without even a flag.
There was a cricket tour to the West Indies. And India toured South Africa. In 1992, South
Africa sent a cricket team to the World Cup in Australia.
The ANC’s sports policy was badly constructed and executed. At best it was naive. This
naivety had all the hallmarks of the involvement of Mandela and his dream of
reconciliation. White South African sportsmen and women were not asked to make a
single sacrifice, nor did they offer to make any. All they wanted was to play
international sport, and they got their wish.
The way rugby is administered is beyond abnormal. Somehow or other, the South
African Rugby Union has managed to get the country to accept a “qualified” merit
system for rugby—very much like the “qualified” franchise for black voters that the old
Progressive Party used to punt.
The sad thing is that the ANC government has been complicit in selling this system to
In August 1992, white South African rugby spectators were given their first chance to
show they were prepared to buy into the new order. New Zealand and Australia arrived
in the country for matches against the national side. It was at the time of the Boipatong
massacre in which 44 people had died in decidedly suspicious circumstances. Many
suspected the South African security services of having been involved in the killings. The
ANC’s request to the South African Rugby Football Union was simple: hold a minute’s
silence for the dead of Boipatong before the game against the All Blacks, don’t sing the
old national anthem and don’t wave old South African flags at the match.
These requests were ignored.
Guest : Riyaad Avontuur
Riyaad Avontuur has been clean for 390 days and counting. But it’s been a long journey
to get here. When he got involved with the wrong crowd and started using drugs, life
became increasingly difficult. Avontuur spent 10 years in and out of rehabs and missed
out on being there for his family. Recovery isn’t instant. This time, Avontuur needed to
fill the days of sobriety with positive intent. He took up running alongside his daughter –
an activity that’s given both Avontuur and his community in Bonteheuwel a head start to
Every time Avontuur and his daughter ventured out for a sprint, children would
approach them: "Uncle, can we come run with you?" he recalls them asking. Avontuur
realised the kids needed to occupy themselves and keep away from negative
influences. “There's so much more in my community beyond drugs and crime,” he says.
By approaching principals in nearby schools, Avontuur gathered learners who were
interested in athletics and eager to have someone coach them. Earlier this year, he
began the Bonteheuwel Central Athletic Club with just two members. It’s now grown to
over 60 children chasing their purpose.
Running the club has guided Avontuur away from his old vices, and towards a position
of leadership. His past has shown him how easy it is to veer off track. But it’s also taught
him it’s possible to move on, no matter where you come from. “I finally feel that I can
contribute something,” he says. Avontuur is turning each step of his recovery into great
strides, both for himself and the kids of Bonteheuwel.
Guest : Lucinda Evans
Our very own Lucinda Evans was one of the amazing women honoured by the BBC, they
describe her as as a voice for women. who leads nationwide marches, rallying thousands
of women in the streets of Cape Town, challenging government to translate policy into
Guest : Sean Drummond | Festival Organisor
The Shnit Short Film festival is an eleven-day event with a unique concept – a
transnational film festival simultaneously taking place in multiple cities on five
continents worldwide, running from the 17th to the 28th of 17-28 October in venues in
and around Cape Town.
Guest : Lisa Joshua Sonn |
You are not what happened to you :
I believe we underestimate the impact on trauma on our lives. Trauma is not about
language. It is about feelings, memories, messages, fears, doubts, anxiety, vulnerability
and so many common triggers.
Mostly triggers are everyday things: a banging door, a setting sun, footsteps towards
your bedroom, quick walking behind you, the sound of thuds behind a closed door,
someone shouting, a stare, a look, the sound of a belt or zip being undone, the rustle of
leaves in a bush as you walk by, the list of triggers is endless.
They talk about the fight or flight response to trauma, but what about freeze? When we
are traumatised we choose one of these options, some people take the risk and the
courage to fight back and others take the personal safety option of fleeing the situation.
There are countless examples in our lives where people flee, there are children who
choose to live in the streets, there are adult children who choose to move to other
countries, or there are those who as soon as they have the means will terminate toxic
relationships which cause them trauma.
There is no wrong way to deal with trauma as in my opinion, we are individuals born to
connect with other people and have relationships. Babies yearn for a parents’ touch,
toddlers are always seeking attention and acknowledgement. No man or woman is an
island and can possibly operate in isolation from the rest of the world. Many try, even
though it is unnatural. We need human contact, support, acknowledgement and love.
As people we have become so accustomed to masking hurt, pain and trauma. We have
put on pretences to ensure we navigate through the challenges, drawing as little
attention to ourselves as possible. The other options include people living in the misery
of the trauma and not really knowing what their options are. They become their trauma
as opposed to counting the trauma as something or many things that happened to them.
They are not what happened to them, it is part of their lives and their history. There are
various processes we can embark on to not take our trauma into our futures. We must
be willing to take a look and to change how we see it. Trauma is part of life. Some get
more than others; few escape this life without trauma.
Eventually we all have choices to make and it is the quality of our relationships that
inform the actions we take. When we feel supported and heard, it is easier to share life
challenges with professional therapists, close friends or members of your family. I have
discovered that sharing with people I trusted helped me to heal and to move on from
the events. It isn’t an easy process and it is a lot more complex and difficult until you
choose to acknowledge that you have been hurt by someone or others whom you loved,
trusted or had an unfortunate traumatic engagement.
A reality for me is that the world is moving so fast, everyone has a “get on with it! get
over it!" attitude. These approaches have not worked ever. Until you work on healing
and being in recovery from trauma, it will not leave your thoughts, your actions and
reactions in the world.
We need to know our traumas, we will do ourselves a service acknowledging what
happened and what we made it mean. Sometimes, what happened is so traumatic that
we make it mean something about ourselves: I am weak, I am not enough, I am not
worthy, I won’t amount to anything, it is me not them. The other outcomes of trauma are
that the person who is traumatised has no other role model but to cause trauma
through the way they show up in the world. There is a truth which teaches us that hurt
people hurt people. Nobody is born to be a bully or to cause pain and problems with
their being. We are all formed by our experiences and what we witness as normal.
For me, trauma always goes with violence physical or silent violence, every type of
abuse where one person or group dominates another. It is always interesting for me to
hear the stories of some people who appear to have the most successful, enviable lives
or jobs and when we actually listen to where they come from, many made a decision
when they were young to leave a legacy, to prove their worth or to never be poor or
Sometimes the trauma we experience runs our lives, we become like machines. We lose
our empathy, we are defensive, we are doubtful or suspicious. It really is such a waste
that more of us don’t take the time to show each other love, empathy and
understanding. A problem halved is a problem shared. Not everyone who wants to know
our stories are comforters, some are just curious busy bodies but we get to choose how
and whom we trust. It is such a personal process; it takes small steps or big audacious
ones. We get to choose.
There is an inspirational story about two brothers who grew up in a violent, abusive
home. The one became a loving family man and the other became a violent abusive
adult. When asked how and why, both of their responses were: "When you come out of a
home like that, what are your choices!?"
As a society many live with wounds and traumas, we need to be kinder to ourselves and
to others. It is actually pretty hard to be kind to ourselves and being kind to others is a
lot more rewarding than living alongside, and not with, the groups you associate with.
Guests : Christopher Clark is a freelance journalist and filmmaker
Ricky Stone | Attorney and cannabis activist
Guest : David Bruce | writer and researcher specialising in the field of policing, criminal justice, violence and crime.
Tony Lawrence | from the the Child Protection Collaborative
According to reports more than 1 boy was involved in sexual relations with a Bishops
teacher, school principal Guy Pearson said in a statement on that several boys were
involved over a number of years.
The teacher left school when the story broke and her father David Mallet has issued a
statement in connection with the incident.
It's also been reported that the boy tried to break off the relationship but the teacher
refused, the school has also called on other pupils that have information to come
Guest : Melinda Ferguson
Mazda CX 3
Guest : Dr Paulo de Valdoleiros
Doctor Paulo de Valdoleiros doesn’t just attend to health problems. He restores people’s
faith in humanity. For many, the high cost of medical services derails their treatment.
But at De Valdoleiros’ clinic in Bloemfontein, patients are welcome to pay as much as
they can afford. This approach often prompts people to open up about their financial
hardships. De Valdoleiros listens earnestly, as they each echo his own background.
Though De Valdoleiros always yearned to be a doctor, his family didn’t have the funds
for his education. So he went straight to work, toiling in different careers for most of his
life. By the age of 45, De Valdoleiros couldn’t ignore his lifelong passion any longer. But
it wasn’t a simple endeavour. De Valdoleiros contacted every medical faculty in South
Africa, receiving the same response every time – his matric certificate was outdated. So
De Valdoleiros enrolled in a Bachelor of Science degree, proved that he could maintain
high results, and was finally selected to study Medicine. He graduated one month
before turning 51.
In June 2019, De Valdoleiros opened his clinic with the intention to place humanity
before business. De Valdoleiros’ novel practice has attracted attention throughout
South Africa, and he’s a regular guest on a televised health show. Despite his fame, De
Valdoleiros remains focused on helping others. No matter what patients pay, he’s
always giving more. The gift of kindness is priceless.
Guests : Joy Cronje
Guests : Jonathon Ancer
The author of Spy : Uncovering Craig Williamson, Jonathon Ancer's new book "Betrayal : The Secret Lives of Apartheid Spies" looks at the roles of spies in the Apartheid era, from a navy super spy working for Mother Russia to the young students that were approached by security police to spy on activists at Tertiary institutions.